And We’re Off.

We were lucky, the wx didn’t cooperate as much as we liked so we had an extra day or two here. We’ve seen the island, eaten at the only restaurant, were able to buy bread (once) and some croissants :), and we walked the circumference of the island. What we had not yet done was see Bruno and Poema.

Poema and Bruno
Poema and Bruno

We met them in Huahini the day before they moved here. Bruno is a physical therapist that also does massages (not at tourist prices) and we had looked forward to each getting loosened up prior to our passage.

We called Poema and she said they had friends coming into the island from New Caledonia so she didn’t think Bruno would have time for the massages but suggested we stop by for a visit. OK.  The following day after our boat chores were completed we hiked to their place on the S end of the island where they have a great view overlooking the sunset and the reef.

There we met their friends and had a nice time chatting about FP as well as a cold beer and a coconut drink.  As luck would have it (maybe the wx had blessed us) Bruno could find some time the following am for us to “loosen up”.

Completing our chores as early as we could so we could make our way to their place we again walked along the wonderful waterfront.   At Bruno’s we both pleasantly endured the abuse that a good massage provides and he even found some muscles that indeed needed to have a few kinks worked out.

That completed we sat and chatted about living in FP and life on a boat. Poema had lived on a boat and actually had sailed down to NZ and back, giving birth to her son. Maitai in Huahini and naming him afar a local drink she had daily at the local cruiser watering hole. Her son currently lives on Tahiti and was in a crew that came in second in the big annual open ocean canoe race.

We meandered slowly; and a bit like Gumby, back to the boat to begin prepping it for our passage tomorrow.  The gods were smiling on us. The winds were not expected to be quite enough to start but we figured if we left in the early pm we could be clear of Mapiti before nightfall and the winds would slowly pick up providing us with a nice ride north. For the most part that was true.

We left via the usual pass; the only pass, wondering how the current and standing waves would be with the funny weather but in actuality it was a non event. Turning west and rounding the island we hoisted the drifter about 2 hours later.  For any wondering the engine ran perfectly. Maybe the changing the last filter was the answer. We ran it for close to 3 hours and had nary a problem.

With the drifter up we were making way. Not fast but progress. We now had the wind vane steering and we moved with between 1.8  and 3 kts of boat speed.  Evening brought a moderate shower and an improved breeze so by the time W/ came off watch and I went on we were up to about 6 kts pretty steady.  That held for almost 48 hours and then things started going funky again. The winds began to lighten up and twist and turn. We started making a zig zag line to our destination and our speed was going from close to zero to about 3 kts.  The median boat speed was most likely close to zero.  After silently cursing for various periods of time we discussed the need to fire up the Iron Genny. W/ was for it, I was ambivalent.  I hated to use the fuel.

To begin our motor trip we needed to douse the drifter.  We had been flying that sail exclusively since leaving Maupiti and it’s time to stuff it in her sack and store below. I doused the sail in a large sock and

Halyard Chafed at about 26"
Halyard Chafed at about 26"

then we lowered it to the deck. That’s where one potential problem reared it’s ugly head.

Coming across the Pacific the boat NorthStar used a similar method for their light air sail. They lost it in the water because the halyard parted. Then again after repairing the system they dunked it in the water on their way from the Tuamotus to the Society Islands. And to make matters worse; both were at night!   Heading to New Zealand the boat Anthem took  their new spinnaker for a swim and they too have a similar system.  When we had pulled down our sail on the Pacific crossing I had noticed the top of the halyard had chafed through the outer core on the line.  I fixed it and redid the splice. This trip I made an effort to twice per day adjust the halyard by about 6″ each time hoping to eliminate any possible chafe hot spots. When we lowered the sail I found the halyard was again chafed.  I’m of the belief that the chafe isn’t occurring at the block at the masthead but somewhere on the sock system I use. The system is the ATN and I need to look and see what could be causing the chafe. I’m also going to add some chafe gear to the halyard that I haul the system up with.  I’ll take some 1/2″ ID water hose and run it over the last two feet of the halyard immediately before the snap shackle. I will let the avid reader know if that was successful.

We were still about 150 nm away by now and that would mean about 30 hours of motoring using about 30 Gallons of fuel.  Noonsite said there was NO fuel in Penhryn.  I have my doubts as anywhere there are more than a 100 people there seems to be fuel but I was concerned. My concern was not enough to sway W/ from starting the engine but enough to provide me with extra anxiety to make our 5 month stay there problematic. The good thing about starting the engine however was that we could easily control when we arrived at Penhryn. It is not prudent to arrive at Penhryn on a Sunday (they consider that a day of rest)  and since there are no markers and obviously no lighted markers, making a night entrance was out of the question. W/  started up the engine.

I added the electronic autopilot that connects to the wind vane and off we went on the rhumb line heading straight to Penhryn with the steady drone of our diesel moving us forward. 30 hours plus or minus would be a good test of whether ol’ Ms Perkins is fixed or not.

Fighting the Fish
Fighting the Fish

LAND HO! Somewhere in the mid morning we spotted Penhryn and I had found enough energy to put out one fishing line. About 10 nm off the S tip we hooked a fish. I was hoping for a Mahi Mahi or a Wahoo but this fish just would not show itself.  W/ grabbed the fishing belt and I grabbed the pole. First it ran out about another 100 yards of line and as the reel was getting low on line I slowly increased the tension on the line hoping to tire the fish. W/ slowed the boat down to an idle so the fish was would still be fighting all the way. I would raise the pole tip up and reel in some line as I lowered the pole down working the fish slowly to the boat. A couple of times the damn thing found some extra energy and ran more line out. But, I was making progress. I wasn’t sure who was getting exhausted sooner. The fish or moi!  Eventually I was able to get it close enough to the boat that I could see what it was. A nice Tuna that’s where it made one last move in it’s quest for freedom to the opposite side of the boat. I climbed over the dinghy on the aft deck and had W/ get ready with a towel to cover and hold the fish down with.  Once aboard we did not wish to see it flop back in to the sea. I was going to use Dirks method of landing the fish. Haul it to the side of the boat and then simply swing it aboard. I have a gaff but actually with this new method

18 lb Yellow Fin Tuna
18 lb Yellow Fin Tuna

I’ve never used it since.  Nor have we lost a fish!  Once I moved to the same side of the boat as the fish I was able to work it to the surface. The Tuna was exhausted because as I had it at the surface it just kind of flopped about a bit. One, Two, Three, up we go. With the leather gloves W/ had procured me I grabbed the monofilament line and swung the fish aboard. W/ threw the towel over it and I flopped down on it.

My next task was to cut the gills and hang it upside down. This would drain the blood from the fish providing an easy death to our gift from Neptune as well as giving the body time for rigormortise to set in. Once rigormortise sets in then filleting will be that much easier with the fish being nice and firm.

By now we were moving along again without any line out. We wrapped our prize in a blanket and laid it out on the aft deck as we were coming up on the entrance and needed all our wits about us to enter the cut. I consulted all the guides we have … again… as well as checking out the electronic charts. One guide said to line up the village on the opposite shore and come in on 87 degrees. Bull!  In the 2 weeks we were on the Omoka side we NEVER were able to see the village on the other side. However I was able to cipher where the pass was. The water was nice and clear and I could see some small standing waves on the inside. This atoll seems to be no different than any in French Polynesia except there are NO markers. We made way through the pass never finding less then 20′ of water and never having more then 1 kt of current against us. Once inside the task became to avoid the mini seamounts that creep up from the bottom of the atoll and locate the sandy spot one cruiser mentions just off the town dock. There the officials will come out to the boat to clear us in.. As we rounded the entrance channel I saw another cruising boat; amazing, and we now had a guide on where to anchor.

Almost 5 days to the hour we had completed 570 miles with about 35 hours of motoring. Not our best, not our worst and thankfully we’re here.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long